The war in Ukraine will surely intensify in the coming days as Kyiv is now on the offensive.
While early reports suggest Ukraine is making progress, we never know what moves Russian President Putin might have in store.
However, one thing seems pretty clear: we will be treated to countless videos of Ukraine killing Russian tanks in the weeks ahead.
Destroyed Russian Tank Seen in Social Media Video
This may be one of the more than a dozen Russian tanks that Kyiv claimed have been destroyed in recent fighting.
It is unclear what was used to destroy the tank, but in the 10-second-long clip, the MBT’s turret was seen blown off – suggesting that it may have been targeted by a man-portable weapon such as a British-produced NLAW, Swedish AT4, or just as likely, an American FGM-148 Javelin.
All of those Western-supplied weapons have been noted for their ability to take out Russian tanks, even those equipped with explosive reactive armor (ERA).
Based on the footage, the T-72B3 did have ERA on the turret, but it apparently did little good.
The T-72’s Achilles Heel in the Spotlight
Though an upgraded model of the Cold War-era MBT, the T-72B3 still failed to address the vehicle’s greatest flaw – namely the use of an autoloader and storage of ordnance within the turret.
Ammunition for the main gun sits in a carousel-style automatic loader with multiple shells within the turret. Even an indirect hit can start a chain reaction that often sets off the entire store of up to 40 rounds. The resulting shockwave from even a dozen rounds is enough to blast the tank’s turret as high as a two-story building.
It has come to be known as the “jack-in-the-box” effect. The flaw was first detected during the U.S.-led invasion of Kuwait to liberate the country from Iraq in 1991 when a multitude of Iraq T-72s were destroyed in such a manner. However, the Russian military never bothered to resolve or even address the issue.
The flaw is apparently made all worse when the tanks face troops armed with modern man-portable anti-tank weapons such as the American-made FGM-148 Javelin, which can target the T-72 with an arc of fire that strikes at the junction of the hull and turret.
A Lot of Destroyed Tanks
Increasingly, Eastern Ukraine is a graveyard of Soviet-era tanks – which are employed by both sides.
Though Russia has claimed to have already destroyed a number of Western-made MBTs and other vehicles, the reports haven’t been independently verified.
Earlier this week, Russian media suggested that several Leopard 2s were seen targeted in a video – but that turned out to be Ukrainian farm harvesters, not German-made MBTs.
Kyiv has also claimed to have destroyed 13 Russian tanks, along with 37 artillery systems in a single day, while the total number of Russian tanks lost was cited to be around 3,300. Those numbers are also likely inflated, but open source data still suggests that the Kremlin had lost at least 2,000 tanks – roughly two-thirds of its pre-war active tank force – in the first 15 months of fighting. And those were the only tanks that could be confirmed destroyed, disabled, or captured based on video or photographic evidence.
This recent video shared on social media certainly counts as a confirmed “kill.”
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) June 7, 2023
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.